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It’s The Little Things That Mean A Lot

I’ve noticed that the number of Christmas cards I receive in the mail has been decreasing year by year by year. Instead, I get a slew of “Merry Christmas” (or “Happy Holidays”) e-mails.

Christmas Cards

By Ron Sellers

I’ve noticed that the number of Christmas cards I receive in the mail has been decreasing year by year by year.  Oh, sure, I’ll get a few more after Christmas, possibly a straggler or two even after the New Year, but whereas I used to be able to paste my office door with Christmas cards from clients, contacts, vendors, and people who want to be my vendors, today I receive relatively few.

Instead, I get a slew of “Merry Christmas” (or “Happy Holidays”) e-mails.  I’m told to click on this link to take me to my Christmas card, or maybe the e-mail itself is replete with snowy trees and a lovely winter scene.

Now, I’m a bit of a traditionalist.  I insist on calling December 25 Christmas, rather than wishing people “Happy Holidays” (and I have no problems if, in return, someone instead wishes me a Happy Hanukkah or a joyous Kwanzaa).  I actually like receiving Christmas cards in the mail, and going through the ritual of opening and reading them.  And I actually read all the cards I get, even if they’re from a vendor I used eight years ago and would never use again because they were so terrible.

Christmas e-mail greetings?  Not so much.  When they’re not stuck in my spam filter, they’re shunted aside to be read later when (if) I have time, and when (if) I decide to bother to click on the link.  And as soon as they’re glanced at, they’re deleted.  The cards are up on my bookshelf.

I sent out Christmas cards to clients, contacts, and important vendors this year.  Each was custom printed, hand signed, with a personal note from me.  It’s part of the Grey Matter brand – personal service, personal attention, and high levels of engagement with customers.  If our brand were high-tech and flashy instead, maybe an e-mail greeting would be a more appropriate fit with our brand.

Or maybe I’m just a Luddite, eschewing the wonders of Flash programming and HTML for a ballpoint pen and a stamp.

Every contact you have with people reflects on your brand.  What have the holiday greetings you have sent (or the ones you haven’t) communicated about your brand?  What have the various greetings you’ve received communicated about the brand of the sender?

I’m curious – what is your reaction when you receive an actual Christmas card from a vendor, versus when you receive a Holiday Greetings E-mail?  For that matter, what is your reaction when you receive a hand-signed Christmas card with a little note from someone you’ve actually spoken with, as opposed to a card that is foil stamped with the company’s name, and sent out with a label on the envelope?

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8 responses to “It’s The Little Things That Mean A Lot

  1. I’m glad to see this post – I went through the same thought process last week, but came up with a different conclusion. I’ve opted to deliver my Christmas well-wishes via email, instead of the traditional hand-signed card in envelope, delivered via post.


    Environmental – While I love the traditional card, but it kills me to throw away all the cards that I receive each year, and to know that the same is being done with the cards I send. In a world where reduce/re-use/recycle has become more than a slogan, I’m trying to reduce paper and waste, wherever possible, when there’s a viable alternative.

    Personable – Yes, personable. I don’t send my emails via a mass-delivery tool, but I write each one individually, personalized to the client. No mention of business; just good, sincere human-to-human thoughts.

    Convenience – for the recipient, and yes, for the sender as well(!). It’s far easier for me to receive and read an email, than to receive, open, read, and decide where to put another Hallmark Card. And then throw it away later.

    Oh, and one final thought:

    Merry Christmas.

  2. Jim, great thoughts. I must say your approach to the e-mail greeting is unique – I cannot recall a vendor from whom I’ve received a personal “Merry Christmas” e-mail (other than as part of another message, such as, “Hey, we’re fully recruited – talk to you soon. Merry Christmas!”

    I’m curious – what do you think the personal e-mail says about your company’s brand? Have you gotten any feedback from clients?

  3. Ron, I think you nailed what makes my approach work – its uniqueness. Most people, as you point out, are accustomed to seeing any emailed Christmas wishes wrapped in a business message. Therefore, when they receive an email that contains NO business messaging, the response seems to be, “Wow, that was thoughtful – thanks.”

    As for how it affects my brand, I’d say it compliments/supports the brand. As a sole practitioner, I AM my brand. So when a client receives a personally-drafted email from me, containing a simple, genuine wish, they know where it’s coming from.

    It also saves me a trip to the printer in November, and saves my client a trip to the re-cycle bin, in January. 😉

    (I hope that I answered your question.)

    Merry Christmas.

  4. Ron, it’s a good question. We have opted to go with electronic cards for a number of reasons:

    Environmental: I fear most printed holiday cards end up in the trash, not recycled, and in many locations those nice foil envelopes can’t be recycled anyway.

    Tech and creativity: We are a tech company and like to design our own card. So we go with an ecard that we design, not just a stock image. We also always make a charitable donation in the name of our clients and partners and the custom ecard we create can communicate that without the need for custom printed paper cards.

    Cost: I put whatever we’d spend on paper cards and postage (and then some) into the above-mentioned charitable donation.

    Regarding “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays”: I opt for the latter. I view late-December as the time to celebrate various holidays, not just Christmas. To me, “Happy Holidays” is non-secular way to offer best wishes at this time of year.

    I agree that ecards take away many of the nice touches that go with printed cards. I still use hand written note cards when communicating thanks or other client outreach. But for the holidays we’ve gone electronic.

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